By Jef With One F
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Even though you might not be familiar with his name, you may have already heard the call of the Goat, particularly if you're a fan of teen slasher movies or professional sports. In this case, we're referring to the musician whose upbeat and catchy ode to existence, "Great Life," has been used on the soundtrack to I Know What You Did Last Summer, and in arenas and ballparks across the country during football, hockey and baseball games.
"It's fantastic that so many people are hearing my song that way; I think it's great," Goat (nee Andy Rosen) says from his apartment in New York, after he has excused himself from the phone to go pay the pizza guy at the door. "And it's even more [special] because I've always loved baseball." That sports connection takes on an even deeper meaning considering that his father, Al Rosen, was both a third baseman with the Cleveland Indians and -- closer to home -- the general manager of the Houston Astros from 1980-85.
"I would come to visit him when he lived in Houston and just check out the music scene and the floodwaters when it rained," Goat remembers. "And I always heard a lot of great bands in Houston."
Now, Goat hopes that a lot of people will hear his band on the back of both the song "Great Life" and his recently-released, full-length debut of the same name on Ruffhouse/Columbia Records. And while no one will accuse Goat of being a great singer (much of his Beck-meets-Jamiroquai vocals are spoken/sung and limited in range), the 12 tracks on Great Life are full of catchy choruses, quirky instrumentation and hummable alt-rock melodies. Many of them express Goat's unabashedly positive outlook on life.
"I really love this living thing; it's tremendous. And I believe in life after this; you live in the universe at some energy level. I wish I could sign up for another 300 years of this," he says. "But I believe that nobody owes you a favor in life. It's about what you can give, and the major challenge is to be good. It's more important for me to be thought of as a great human being than a great [musician]."
But as somebody who has bounced around the music scene of New York in a dizzying array of jobs, wasn't he interested in making his first record the most wham-bam and accessible possible to reach the widest audience? "That reality was in the air, but when I was recording, I wasn't thinking about anything else but the music."
Goat first got involved in music as a teenager while growing up in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a source of not only inspiration but also solace after his mother committed suicide, and his grandparents had a piano delivered to the house. After relocating to Las Vegas, he won a boxing scholarship to the University of Nevada, but spent more time talking with the bandleader from the Caesar's Palace orchestra than with his trainer.
After traveling to New York to break into the biz in the late '70s, Goat found himself with a $90-a-week custodian's job at The Power Station, at the time one of the hottest recording studios in the country. There he watched a Who's Who of rock royalty in action, including the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen (who was creating The River there). But while soaking up the intricacies of recording, he also took home one salient lesson.
"I learned that drugs are BAD for you!" he laughs, adding that he could "tell some stories" about some famous names, but then declines to do so.
Later adventures for Goat would include a stint in a rockabilly band, running sound and bookings bands at New York rock clubs, touring with legendary rock songwriter/performer Otis Blackwell ("Great Balls of Fire," "All Shook Up") and playing as an accompanist with the Martha Graham Dance School and the Julliard School of Music.
After friends encouraged Goat to work on his own music, Goat wrote "Great Life" to help lift him out of a depression. It caught the ears of underground rock and rap producers The Butcher Brothers, who produced the song which then garnered some interest from the film world, eventually getting a coveted spot on the soundtrack to the hit film I Know What You Did Last Summer. But despite his badly needing a career break, Goat wasn't so enthusiastic about the opportunity at first.
"Money has never been my motivation. Getting out an album has. And I just didn't want [Columbia] to take this one song from me and then ignore me. I didn't want to be a one-hit wonder. But it turned out that they didn't, and I got to make a [full record]."
And after spinning all of Great Life, it's likely that there will be no middle ground with Goat -- one will either love his highly individualistic songs and the way he sings them and plays swirling keyboard, or despise tracks like "Free," "Mercenary Lover," "Lot on My Mind" and "Tenderness and Full Brutality." Goat promises "heavier" material on his next record, and the curious can check out its progress on his web site, www.goatlife.com.